Before the Internet, young people expressed themselves through the clothes they wore, the friends they had, the music they listened to and the sports they played — or didn’t play. And they still do.
While image still matters, during the research for our study “Coming of Age on Screens,” in which we commissioned culture experts Crowd DNA to do an in-depth study of people ages 13-24 in 13 countries, we discovered that people increasingly express themselves online by sharing pictures, videos, jokes and information about themselves.
This is the fourth post in a series in which we share the findings of our study and provide insights to help marketers better understand, communicate and connect with this generation that is literally growing up on screens.
The place to share
Around the world, online is now a favorite place to hang out, second only to friends’ homes. When it comes to where to share, social media is the first place young people turn to share the most important moments and feelings of their lives. When they’ve had a “really good day,” the first place they share the news is on social media (30%), followed by face to face (22%) and text (11%).
Sharing information is a natural part of their days. Teens and young adults told us they first use social media to share things like interesting news articles (36%) or random observations (28%). Some 44% of young people around the world say they would share a funny video, photo or joke on social media before sharing it in person.
Images are also a popular way to connect.
“You can have a photo up there and throw 5 simple words on there and people will get it and find it funny, instead of typing out a paragraph.” – Victor, 22, a research participant from the US
Relevancy and trust with brands
Brands have a place in young people’s interactions online. Teens and young adults say they welcome hearing from a brand online but that trust and relevancy are key. Some 53% of young people agree they like it when brands they like speak to them via social media. But 56% agree they only pay attention to advertising from brands they trust.
Setting a high bar for brand content
Young people say they also want brands to be thoughtful about what they post. Some 72% of youth say they expect advertising to be entertaining, suggesting a high bar for marketers. Those numbers are even stronger in high-growth markets, including Indonesia (99%), Brazil (81%) and India (80%).
A majority of youth (56%) globally say they would share interesting advertising content that they received on their mobile phones.
What this means for marketers
Unlike hangout spots of old, there is a legitimate space for brands online. To find a welcomed way into this space and conversation, focus on showing the brand’s human side and personalizing messaging as much as possible.
Convey how the brand cares about things that matter to youth in a casual and friendly way. Respect must be earned. One way to do that is to highlight how the brand offers a useful service or provide the entertainment and humor that this generation so deeply values.
Brands should create content that appeals to the values of young people and reflects the image they want to share online.
It’s also important that content be in the language that youth speak, and that language is increasingly visual. One of the main ways this generation expresses thoughts and receives validation is through sharing images and videos.
Learn more about how people around the world are coming of age in a world of constant connectivity:
To download the white paper click here.